Granite and Barrington team up in two markets


Joint sales (JSA) and shared services agreements (SSA) will bring Barrington Broadcasting Group and Granite Broadcasting Corp. under the same roof in Syracuse, NY and Peoria, IL. Granite’s WTVH-TV (CBS) will move in with Barrington’s WSTM-TV (NBC) in Syracuse and Barrington’s WHOI-TV (ABC) will relocate to the Peoria studios of Granite’s WEEK-TV (NBC).

Under the terms of the agreements, the operating station will provide advertising, sales, promotion, administrative services and selected programming to the other station. The companies said this arrangement between Granite and Barrington “will create a better and more efficient operation, which will enhance these outstanding local television stations.”

In making the announcement, Granite Broadcasting’s CEO Don Cornwell said, “This arrangement is an important step in the implementation of Granite’s strategic vision to capitalize on our core strength of operating leading local stations in the nation’s mid-size markets. It provides opportunities for substantial operating efficiencies by allowing us to use our existing infrastructure to expand the breadth of local news and services provided to the viewers of Central New York and Illinois, while enhancing the revenue and profitability of both stations.”

At Barrington, CEO Jim Yager stated, “We are delighted to be working with a forward-thinking company like Granite. Together, our companies and stations will focus our combined resources on making these great stations more efficient, becoming even better community citizens and, at the same time, providing measurable benefits for our viewers.”

What will change? “One of the chief advantages of operating these stations under the agreements will be the ability to offer local and national news, as well as programming of community interest in new and varied time periods, giving viewers greater opportunity to watch at their convenience. The Granite and Barrington plan will fully develop this opportunity, offering local newscasts expanded in both breadth and amount. Specifically, the stations will provide newscasts in time periods not currently programmed with local news and extend local news to other time periods, allowing viewers more access to local reports and information. Granite and Barrington also plan to improve the emergency weather forecasting and daily forecasting by bringing the latest and best technology to both stations,” the joint announcement stated.

Under the terms of the JSA and SSA, Granite and Barrington said they expect to realize a number of expense efficiencies through the combining of resources and the reduction of some staff positions. “Affected employees will receive a generous severance package and extensive job placement assistance will be offered at company expense,” they said.

RBR/TVBR observation: Despite years of deregulation inaction from Washington, stations in medium and smaller markets are doing what is necessary to survive and serve their local communities – whether the FCC Commissioners and US Congress give a damn about those communities or not. Yes, some jobs are being lost, but jobs are being lost everywhere in this recession. Importantly, Granite and Barrington note that combining their resources in Peoria and Syracuse will allow them to offer local and national news in new time periods to give local viewers more news choices.